As you may have already realised from my recent posts about The Best Vegetarian Azerbaijani Food in Baku and A Trip to the Burning Mountain and Fire Temple, Azerbaijan that I recently spent some time in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.
Baku is a great city, I felt really at home there and the local Azeris were all so friendly and helpful. There’s so much to see, so many impressive buildings and it all felt very safe. I really enjoyed wandering around the Old Town, eating Azerbaijani food and speaking the bits of Azerbaijani I’d learnt. Baku definitely ranks in my top 5 favourite cities now and I’m keen to go back very soon. Here are my highlights:
The Viewpoint at Dağüstü Park
Up at Dağüstü Park there are amazing views that take in the skyline of Baku and the vast Caspian Sea. From here you can see the Flame Towers high above the city, the Old Town – noticeable by how low its buildings are in comparison with the rest of Baku, and the long Esplanade with the People’s Park, Carpet Museum and various other attractions.
Baku’s Old Town – İçərişəhər
Completely surrounded by fortified walls and towers and accessed through impressive stone gateways, the Old Town of Baku feels completely different to the rest of the city. Known in Azeri as the İçəri Şəhər (Inner City) it is now protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Home to a number of Azerbaijan’s most important historical buildings including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and the Maiden Tower.
The Heydar Aliyev Center – Heydər Əliyev Mərkəzi
The Heydar Aliyev Centre is the most impressive building I have ever seen in my life. Designed by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, it is considered one of her best works. It houses various exhibitions inside but the grounds around the building also feature temporary art installations.
Baku Boulevard – Milli Park
The Baku Boulevard stretches along Baku’s Caspian Sea shoreline and is home to the Carpet Museum, Mugham Centre and the People’s Park among other attractions. There is also a Mini Venice of crystal clear swimming pool water in a small grid of artificial canals. Sweet.
A personal highlight for me was the Azerbaijani food. A bit like a cross between Turkish and Persian with a decent amount of vegetarian meals too. My favourite restaurant was Nakhchivan on Parliament Avenue which combined fine dining in a stylish setting with the most authentic and traditional regional foods from the Nakhchivan exclave. Now, it’s my all-time favourite restaurant.
The Green Bazaar – Yaşıl Bazar
The place to go for green plums, dried barberries and rosebuds to put in your black Azerbaijani tea. This striking new building houses a clean and inviting market with some of the best produce from across Azerbaijan, including things hard to find in Western Europe.
Of course, there is plenty more to Baku, but in my brief visit this year – these were my personal highlights. Can’t wait to return to Baku one day soon and see what else it has to offer.